Monday, July 06, 2009

Get Them Married Young Or They'll Leave Orthodoxy!!!

RafiG, via Ezzie, has this preview for a new documentary about the Orthodox singles scene in Manhattan:



The focus is mostly on the usual obvious "problem": boys and girls who grow up in single-sex environments and live in artificial communities and aren't allowed to be alone together or even touch don't have an easy time getting married by 22 or 23.

Those of you who did not grow up Orthodox will no doubt be thinking "22? 23? WTF? What's the rush?"

Well here's your answer, from an honest Orthodox woman:
When you don't get married young, you're likely to become less Orthodox. Uh, they will start experimenting with different things, they will start meeting different people, they will be influenced in negative ways... Uh, they will have different values, and they will not turn out to have a family life and be as Orthodox.


She's admitting that if you let these young adults, who have been sheltered from reality their entire lives, start to learn about themselves and the world, they're going to be less Orthodox. She doesn't see this as an indication that perhaps something is wrong with Orthodoxy, but just as a problem to be avoided by any means necessary.

Her solution is appalling. Get them married before they figure out who they are and what they want. Get them married before they start wondering if there's any truth to this religion they've been indoctrinated with since birth. Get them married before they have a chance to realize that what they've been taught about non-Jews and the non-Orthodox is not true. Get them married before they start having normal relationships and realizing maybe they don't want to be with a kollel learner or the rosh yeshiva's daughter.

It's possible that she believes that if they do get married young, they'll live happily ever after as Orthodox people. But it's also possible that she simply realizes that once they get married, it's too late. Once a person realizes that they don't want to be Orthodox anymore, they can't leave unless their spouse is on board. (This happens -- Hi Avi! -- but based on what I see in the Jblogosphere, doesn't happen as often as one spouse having to keep his/her beliefs secret so as to not lose their marriage and possibly kids.)

This is just bad parenting (by the parents and by the community, in loco parentis.) It's control-freak parenting. You want your kid to turn out exactly one way, so you hide from him all other ways and then trap him with marriage before he figures it out. It's wrong and it's unhealthy.

It's not even good religion -- what kind of religious people are you raising who are religious just because they never really had a choice?

What people should do -- what good parents everywhere do -- is raise their children to make informed decisions. Teach them your values, give them the wisdom you've accumulated, but then let them grow into the adults they are rather than the adults you wanted them to be. Children -- especially adult children -- are not your personal playthings.

If you want your child to become a doctor but he's a gifted artist, do you forbid him from lifting a paintbrush? Do you set up an entire community so that he can live his life without ever having a genuine conversation with a non-doctor? Do you force him to study premed and then enroll in medical school? Do you then take out the loans in his name so that he's stuck with a $200,000 debt he can only repay by becoming a doctor? And then make sure he marries a woman who will only stay with a doctor?

You do if you're a control-freak parent. If you're a good parent, you explain to your child why you think being a doctor would be good for him, and you share your concerns about living as a professional artist, but ultimately, you recognize that it's his life and if he doesn't want to be a doctor, it's probably not a good idea to manipulate him into becoming one anyway.

44 comments:

esther said...

There are certainly some uncomfortable similarities between Orthodox Judaism and religious cults such as the Unification Church and Scientology.

Ezzie said...

While I know you'd like to think they're referring to intellectual dissatisfaction, it's simply not the case. It's much more of a relaxation of their Judaism because they feel the need to despite their belief in it.

Off the Derech said...

>what kind of religious people are you raising who are religious just because they never really had a choice?

Bingo.

Jewish Atheist said...

Ezzie:

"While I know you'd like to think they're referring to intellectual dissatisfaction, it's simply not the case. It's much more of a relaxation of their Judaism because they feel the need to despite their belief in it."

How do you know??

Holy Hyrax said...

JA

I have to agree with Ezzie here. Just from context she is not referring to some intellectual shift.

Jewish Atheist said...

I'm sure she doesn't think of it that way.

Anyway, perhaps "intellectual" is too narrow. Does that really cover the process people go through between 22ish and 30 when they go out into the real world and start learning how things really are?

Holy Hyrax said...

how things are?

Shalmo said...

JA not all non-Orthodox people feel 22 or 23 are too young.

Many people from eastern cultures (mine included) marry in their lower 20's.

And its not because they want to keep them chained in the community. It actually because the kids themselves practise the no-premarital sex rule and thus are eager to marry and break it, but also because they desire companionship.

You are judging Orthodox by modernist standards, where as historically almost everyone married in their teens, with women usually starting out as wives in their pre-teen ages.

again could this not just be orthodox fear of their adherants engaging in pre-marital sex, that is encouraging younger marriages?

Anonymous said...

Explaining to a child why Orthodox Judaism would be good for them is an almost impossible task, for OJ is largely inexplicable.
The rules and regulations, when held up to rational observation, are profoundly stupid.

There is no evidence that adhering to any or all of these silly traditions, actually makes for a more decent and well-rounded human being.

Therefore, they must resort to cult-like behavior, shielding their
children from truth, repressing their sexuality, and encouraging them into marriage, thus further ensuring another generation of obedient sheep.

It's the blind leading the blind.

Holy Hyrax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kisarita said...

i agree with shalmo that one of the biggest fears lurking in the mind of ortho parents is that their kids might have SEX

There's nothing wrong with marrying young. My sister did it and is living happily ever after all. It the pressure and the panic that you MUST be married young OR ELSE.

Jewish Married Sex said...

Fantastic post! I'm going to embed this video on my blog, as well, as I think it talks to the issue I address of sexual deviance in the Jewish world.

Jack said...

There's nothing wrong with marrying young.

There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but there are reasons why it can be problematic.

Jewish Atheist said...

HH:

how things are?

You know, that the way you were brought up in your particular subbranch of your particular branch of your particular religion is not the only way that exists. For starters. There's a difference between knowing that in theory and understanding it in practice.


Shalmo:

JA not all non-Orthodox people feel 22 or 23 are too young.

My first draft of this post included Muslims and others. You are right that a lot of it has to do with premarital sex, but that just shifts the issue down the road. Why is religion so obsessed with premarital sex?

Also, in other cultures where kids don't go on a prolonged adolescence like American college students, people probably mature a bit earlier.

kisarta:

There's nothing wrong with marrying young. My sister did it and is living happily ever after all. It the pressure and the panic that you MUST be married young OR ELSE.

Of course. SOME people are perfectly fine marrying young. I'm not opposed to it as a rule (although I think it's still probably better to live together or at least have a sexual relationship first.) The issue is when EVERYBODY or a majority of people are expected to marry young.

Holy Hyrax said...

>You know, that the way you were brought up in your particular subbranch of your particular branch of your particular religion is not the only way that exists. For starters. There's a difference between knowing that in theory and understanding it in practice.

Not sure how relevent this all is.

>Why is religion so obsessed with premarital sex?

Um, look around maybe? It's not that religion is obsessed with premarital sex, its that secular culture is just OBSESSED with sex, and pushing down earlier and earlier that, now, it looks as if it is religion that is the one that is obsessed with it.

>The issue is when EVERYBODY or a majority of people are expected to marry young.

I think expectations are good. Why, in general, are orthodox couples more successful at it younger than others? Its because they are part of a community that preaches a certain expectation, and then, you live by it. I would never expect that from a secular community cause they would just fail that test. I see with my own eyes how younger frum kids are at takign care of younger kids. With more children in the family, there is expectation at helping out. I think the girls pick this up rather quickly, even more so then I would trust a secular girl (at a young age). My wife has a summer camp with a 12 year old assitant. Her maturity, from my experience, matches other girls within our community of her age and much more than I would say my sister at that age who is not frum.

FriedFalafel said...

Every culture has to deal with the excessive sexuality that is programmed into humans (especially males). Orthodox Judaism screws itself over (no pun intended) by having nothing to offer (and I mean nothing) to an aging single person who is trying to remain Orthodox. By not allowing any release of the pressure and punishing any act with extreme guilt, OJ makes itself progressively irrelevant to such people. Unfortunately for OJ, older single people are a reality and a result of our growing educational requirements in an increasingly complex world.

I think this observation, together with others of its kind (in other realms) causes OJ twenty-somethings to start analyzing their religion more critically. It breaks the emotional/guilt-based bond that normally prevents scrutiny, and allows them to open up to other options and other people.

Holy Hyrax said...

FF

So what is your point? Judaism certainly does not look up pre marital sex as Christians do, but what are you suggesting then?

Off the Derech said...

>secular culture is just OBSESSED with sex

Religious culture is just OBSESSED with sex.

FTFY.

Holy Hyrax said...

Grow up OTD and come back when you FINALLY have something intelligent to say, or do you like just to attack religion for ANYTHING for the hell of it?

CRAP

I forgot. Historical facts are of never relevance to you. Let me add that to the list.

Off the Derech said...

Wow. Why the bad mood?

Holy Hyrax said...

why the stupid comments OTD?

kisarita said...

Hyrax,
A side point: I'm sure it seems nice to you from the outside, but a lot of older daughters grow up feeling like the family maid.

Holy Hyrax said...

You are right Kisarita

And my heart does go out to them. It really does. I am sure it is much harder for the women then it is the men.

DrJ said...

I am a skeptic but I have to say that I identify with the sentiments expressed here. (although both my daughters married young, for one it didn't work).

People become more inflexible and particular as they get older. On the other hand young couples learn to grow together. If one starts from the assumption that having children and a family is a value (in this case a religious value), then the trend of delaying marriage would appear negative. My impression is that the longer they delay, the less likely they are to actually find somebody. Also, the excuses to delay having children start to balloon, not lessen, the longer they wait.

I think the premarital sex is maybe part of it, but the main issue is that a core value of Judaism-- the centrality of the family-- is being eroded.

Here in Israel we are seeing an increase in the phenomenon of orthodox men and women in the late 20s and early 30s still not married. There is alot of concern, but the reaction is not to pressure people to get married, but rather inculcate strong community and family values and the importance of marriage, in education, even in high school.

Overall it is part of a trend of secularization of western society in general, which puts individual welfare and success before that of community.

bankman said...

"young couples learn to grow together."

or grow apart - which unfortunately is not uncommon.

jewish philosopher said...

Get them married before they become whores.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/rational-response-squad.html

Holy Hyrax said...

"young couples learn to grow together."

or grow apart - which unfortunately is not uncommon.


I agree with both of this. But I believe that is actually the positive of expectations given by a particular community. Again, this is a generality, but I believe an accurate generality. All the people that I have met since I have become religious have married young and grown and compromised together

bankman said...

"All the people that I have met since I have become religious have married young and grown and compromised together"

All?!?!?

HH, not sure if you are married or not, but i would caution you on judging the health of a relationship by external pleasantries.

Unfortunately, I know too many frum couples married 1-12 years who cant stand eachother (but put on a good face in front of " the chevra") These couples ALL got married very young (in my opinion) - early 20s.

growing apart is the way i would describe it.

Holy Hyrax said...

Bankman

I said all the people I have met, and I guess I should be specific, that I know as well.

>HH, not sure if you are married or not, but i would caution you on judging the health of a relationship by external pleasantries.

You are right of course. (and yes I am married, and married at 22). There is all of that. I happen to think, that there will ALWAYS be problems. Problems in the bedroom is perfectly normal. I just think marrying earlier is better than later.

DrJ said...

"Unfortunately, I know too many frum couples married 1-12 years who cant stand eachother (but put on a good face in front of " the chevra") These couples ALL got married very young (in my opinion) - early 20s."

And this would not happen if they married later? People get more rigid and crotchety as they age.

bankman said...

this was not a scientific study.

of course a marriage can suck whether the couple marries early or late.

the point here is that using the logic that "they will grow together" does not hold as they could "grow apart" just as well.

wheras if a couple marries older, when they are "grown" then the odds of "growing" any further are diminished. therby decreasing the odds of "growing apart" which is more common that 'growing together" in my opnion.

make sense?

DrJ said...

Of course mine isn't a scientific study either, but my impression is that young couples, even with their differences and different development, are more prone to compromise when differences arise, when they have a longer and more stable history together from their youth. This is particularly true when stresses come along, such as children, illness or money issues. This, as opposed to a more "mature" but inflexible couple, who believing that they found the "perfect" match for their requirements find out after a while that their mate isn't perfect and can't put up with it.

bankman said...

good points

kisarita said...

For a scientific study see Abandoning Eden's blog, which shows that the divorce rate is consistently lowest for those who married after age 28.

Geonite said...

"When you don't get married young, you're likely to become less Orthodox. Uh, they will start experimenting with different things, they will start meeting different people, they will be influenced in negative ways... Uh, they will have different values, and they will not turn out to have a family life and be as Orthodox."

I guess she doesn't have much faith in God ;-)

Geonite said...

DrJ,

I would expect young people to me likely to believe they had found perfection and be unwilling to compromise. The older you get the more you realize there is no such thing as a perfect mate and are more willing to compromise.

OTOH with young people you are more likely to have one person who is willing to be a dishrag and has no sense of self worth and is always giving in. And in the Orthodox community where women are often taught to be subservient to their husbands this works. Unless they've had time to see the real world.

Holy Hyrax said...

>I would expect young people to me likely to believe they had found perfection and be unwilling to compromise. The older you get the more you realize there is no such thing as a perfect mate and are more willing to compromise.

One has to teach the value of compromise in young. The older you get, the harder it gets. And understandingly. You are more set in your ways, habits and careers. You are MORE likely to search for someone that fits in with YOUR own picky nature. This is something that can be seen in all the older people around us. Whether they are our parents, or bosses. The older you get, the more stuck you are in your own way of living and doing things.

>And in the Orthodox community where women are often taught to be subservient to their husbands this works. Unless they've had time to see the real world.

Sure, there a gender roles where the husband is the "leader of the tribe" but you coming from an OJ past know about the ongoing seminars, books and community lectures to teach EVEN the husbands on how to follow the wife and compromise to her needs.. I mean, the whole point in Shalom Bayit so much of the time geared toward the stubbornness of men is to first make the wife happy before anyone else.

Holy Hyrax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geonite said...

HH,

As a woman I wouldn't know what the men were taught. In that case the woman rules the roost and the man just tries to comply. But men who have been out and about and get a sense of who they are and what they want may not be so compliant.

Yes you are more set in your ways and pickier when you get older. But you also know that you can't always have your own way and you know that your mate isn't perfect. Young people think they married perfection. I guess that if the man is always trying to please his wife they can continue to think it's the truth. Personally I think it explodes after a while. You can't deny yourself and not build up resentment over time. I know that my grandparents were not happy in their arranged marriages.

Anonymous said...

Shalmo,

Not all Eastern cultures marry young, not even all Muslims-in Iran the avarage age of marriage is 25 for women, 27 for men, of course Iran has a lot of even completely illiterate people like the Kurds or the Afghans, the urban literate Iranians from Tehran seem to be marrying in their early thirties, from what I notice amongst my relatives & family friends! Most are nominally Muslim.

I don't exactly know how virginal they are before marriage.

And I would agree with Jewish Atheist, marrying one's kids off barely out of their teens is control freak parenting, whatever you call it. In fact, most arranged marriages are control freak parenting-& its simply not as young people actually all believe in the values of the faith & shun sex before marriage, its because they fear the consequences if they break the rules!

Many of my cousins & friends have quit Islam, not everyone can frankly tell their parents like I have.And they live in Tehran, Iran which although officially a theocracy is actually extremely secular,weekly mosque attendance is barely 5%.

Religion for loads of people isn't about belief in G-d\Allah\Jesus, its about facing the dire consequences of making their disbelief known.

Btw, I remember you'd claimed that Ayesha was about 19, want to debate her age with me?

I'm keen to debate.

Fawzia

Anonymous said...

This article is about Iranians in America.Only 40% of Iranians identify as Shia Muslims, others are irreligious or belong to other faiths, I personally don't know anyone who would object to their child marrying out of the faith.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_American

Holy Hyrax:I see with my own eyes how younger frum kids are at takign care of younger kids. With more children in the family, there is expectation at helping out.

Is that neccessarily good for the child, especially the girl? My mom was the eldest of seven children, when Iranian birthrate was 7 children per woman, she claims that she never managed to have a decent education as she was constantly burdened with caring for her siblings.

I am an only child, when Iranian birthrate is 1.7, my parents emigrated with me to a Western country where Iranian birthrate is even lower than that of the White women of that country, Iranians have far better test scores, on par with East Asians.

Kids of smaller families might not care for siblings, but their ambitious parents often ensure that they study very, very long & hard & the community is industrious & productive, like Iranian Americans are.

Also, I know that none of my friends parents will ever disown them, certainly won't "honor kill" them-coz they wouldn't want to lose their only child or one of 2 kids, so we can do what we want, even leave a religion we find unsatisfactory! ;-)

Fawzia

Holy Hyrax said...

>Is that neccessarily good for the child, especially the girl? My mom was the eldest of seven children, when Iranian birthrate was 7 children per woman, she claims that she never managed to have a decent education as she was constantly burdened with caring for her siblings.

Ok. I never said the daughter needs to all of a sudden become the mother of the entire family raise the children on her own and not get an education. But there is something to be said about the maturity and responsibility that these girls get.

>Iranians have far better test scores, on par with East Asians.

If you think test scores are of very important value, then fine.

>Kids of smaller families might not care for siblings, but their ambitious parents often ensure that they study very, very long & hard & the community is industrious & productive, like Iranian Americans are.

Yes. I am VERY aware of the Iranian American community here.

Anonymous said...

This entire post is a perfect example of something called "Projection."

JAlanKatz said...

FF - doesn't it seem odd to you that everyone tends to have this "excessive" trait?

I've found by experience that really, everything the haredi world worries about seems to be true. They told me that if I didn't get married within 2 years of becoming a BT, I'd end up OTD...and I am. They didn't like the idea of going back to school...and I went back to school and went OTD. See? They're right. The only thing I happen to think they're wrong about is whether or not this is desirable.

Now, as I venture off (slowly) I am so happy that I didn't get married. If I had, I would be having these same doubts, but I wouldn't be able to act on them. I'd have to live a lie for the rest of my life.